African Forest Elephant
Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Loxodonta cyclotis
Population size
100,000
Life Span
55-80 years
Top speed
39
24
km/hmph
km/h mph 
Weight
0.9-3
1984.2-6613.9
tlbs
t lbs 
Height
3
8
mft
m ft 
Length
1.6-2.9
5.2-9.4
mft
m ft 

The African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) is one of the two living African elephant species. It is the smallest of the three living elephant species. The first scientific description of the species was published in 1900. During the 20th century, the population of African forest elephants declined due to hunting to less than 30,000 individuals estimated in 2013. They are threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation, and poaching.

Di

Diurnal

No

Nocturnal

He

Herbivore

Fo

Folivore

Fr

Frugivore

Li

Lignivore

Te

Terrestrial

Pr

Precocial

Br

Browsing

Zo

Zoochory

No

Nomadic

Vi

Viviparous

Po

Polygyny

So

Social

He

Herding

Do

Dominance hierarchy

No

Not a migrant

A

starts with

Appearance

The African forest elephant has grey skin, which looks yellow to reddish after wallowing. It is sparsely covered with black coarse hair, which is 20-200 mm (0.8-8 in) long around the tip of the tail. The length of the tail varies between individuals from half the height of the rump to almost touching ground. It has five toenails on the forefoot and four on the hindfoot. Its back is nearly straight. Its oval-shaped ears have small elliptical-shaped tips and the tip of the trunk has two finger-like processes. The African forest elephant's tusks are straight and point downwards, and are present in both males and females. The African forest elephant has pink tusks, which are thinner and harder than the tusks of the African bush elephant. The length and diameter vary between individuals. Tusks of bulls grow throughout life, and tusks of cows cease growing when they are reproductively mature. The tusks are used to push through the dense undergrowth of their habitat. Their tusks can grow to about 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) long and can weigh between 23 and 45 kg (50 and 100 lb).

Video

Distribution

Geography

The area of this species' distribution covers a vast territory in central and western Africa. African forest elephants occur in northern Congo, southwestern Central African Republic, the southeast coast of Gabon, southern Ghana, and Cote D'Ivoire. They inhabit rainforests, swamp forests, montane forests, dry forests, shrubland, and savanna.

African Forest Elephant habitat map

Climate zones

African Forest Elephant habitat map
African Forest Elephant
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Habits and Lifestyle

African forest elephants are social animals. Their groups consist of 2-8 individuals and are usually smaller than these of other elephants. Meanwhile, family units consist of 3-5 elephants on average, which are often female relatives: a female with her offspring or several females and their offspring. Reaching maturity, male calves leave the group, whereas females are philopatric, remaining in their family group. Groups of this species avoid each other, as opposed to these of the African savanna elephant. Males live under a size-based dominance hierarchy. They live alone and socialize only when mating. The most common form of communication in these elephants is low calls. These vocalizations are perceived by conspecifics through several kilometers of dense jungle. However, they are too low to be heard by the human ear. They can also recognize and hear vibrations through the ground and can detect food sources with their sense of smell.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

African forest elephants are herbivorous (lignivorous, folivorous, frugivorous) animals. Their diet primarily consists of tree bark, leaves, and fruit. To supplement their diet with minerals, they congregate at mineral-rich waterholes and mineral licks

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
year-round, peak occurres during the wet season
PREGNANCY DURATION
20-22 months
BABY CARRYING
1 calf
INDEPENDENT AGE
6.5 years
FEMALE NAME
cow
MALE NAME
bull
BABY NAME
calf

African forest elephants have a polygynous mating system, where males compete for their mating rights. Meanwhile, older, larger, and more dominant males are usually more successful. They can mate year-round with the peak periods, occurring during the wet season. The gestation period lasts for 20-22 months, yielding a single baby, rarely - twins. The calf is nursed by its mother for 6.5 years. Within the first year of its life, the baby starts eating vegetation along with maternal milk. Male calves often nurse more than females. Hence, females of a group practice allosuckling, nursing the offspring of another female. The age of reproductive maturity hugely depends on climate, environment, and diet. Male elephants reach maturity within 11-14 years but successfully breed only when they are older, larger, and more experienced. The age of maturity in females varies between 9 and 22 years, though most of them are mature when they are 11-14 years old.

Population

Population threats

One of the biggest threats to the African forest elephant is poaching for bushmeat and ivory: the latter has such a huge demand in the illegal market, that tens of thousands of elephants are killed each year for ivory only. Furthermore, the Vulnerable animals currently suffer from fragmentation and loss of their natural habitat due to commercial logging, plantations for biofuels as well as logging, mining, and other extractive industries, which allow poachers to enter remote elephant forests. Nowadays, elephants more and more often come into conflict with humans as a result of habitats contract and human populations’ extension: in some parts of their range, elephants damage crops and villages, which are adjacent to their habitat or cross their migration corridors. As a general rule, elephants are the ones that lose these conflicts. However, mortality occurs among both animals and humans: people are occasionally trampled when trying to defend their property, while elephants are frequently shot by game guards.

Population number

Presently, African Forest elephants are not included in the IUCN Red List; however, according to the Wikipedia resource, the total population size of the African forest elephant today is less than 100,000 individuals, with about half of the remaining population in Gabon.

Ecological niche

African forest elephants play a very important role in their ecosystem. They are one of the most effective seed dispersers in the tropics and have been referred to as the "megagardeners of the forest" due to their significant role in maintaining plant diversity.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The word "elephant" derives from “elephas”, meaning "ivory" in Greek.
  • Elephants are highly intelligent animals! They are able to demonstrate grief, altruism, compassion, self-awareness, play, art, and music.
  • One of the most famous elephants of all times was the Jumbo. Its name is believed to originate from a Swahili word, meaning ‘boss’ or ‘chief’. Presently, the word 'jumbo' is commonly used as another synonym for 'huge'.
  • The hippocampus (a part of the brain, which is responsible for emotion and spatial awareness) of elephants is the most developed among all animals in the world.
  • According to studies, the ability of elephants to keep track of various objects in 3D space is even better than that of humans.
  • In spite of what we can see in some movies, elephants do not like peanuts.
  • These careful animals can often be seen standing over their sleeping babies and obscuring the sun as well as dousing their calves in the sand: this is done to protect their offspring from the scorching sun.
  • Elephants are fond of swimming! When in deep water, they breathe through their trunks, which act as snorkels.

Coloring Pages

References

1. African Forest Elephant Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_forest_elephant

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